Burpees are one of the most notorious bodyweight exercises, but they’re also one of the most effective. In terms of high-intensity exercises, there aren’t many that provide a full-body workout like burpees.
The amount of calories you burn while performing them depends on factors like your weight, gender, and age, however, the average person will burn around 10 calories per minute while doing burpees.
Here, we will look in more detail at how many calories this calisthenic exercise burns, how to perform it correctly and how you can make adjustments to it.
Calories burned by burpees
Right off the bat, it’s essential to note that the number of calories you burn while performing burpees will depend on a variety of factors, not just the exercise itself.
The biggest contributing factor to the number of calories burned by burpees is weight; generally speaking, the heavier you are then the more calories you will burn, as there is more bodyweight to be moved around.
The average person will burn roughly 10 calories per minute of performing burpees, but this will vary depending on weight, age, gender, and a few other factors.
If you weigh 180 pounds, you would burn approximately 680 calories in an hour of non-stop burpees. Now, this is working off an average of 20 burpees per minute and this will obviously vary from person to person.
A 200lb person would burn somewhere in the region of 760 calories by performing burpees over the same amount of time, while someone weighing 150lbs would burn about 570 calories.
Using these figures, you can get a much clearer idea of how many calories you’re burning while performing burpees. Hitting 20 burpees per minute is a good benchmark to aim for, though the focus should always be performing the movement safely and correctly.
Breaking this down, it means you can burn anywhere between 8 and 12 calories for every 20 burpees you complete – provided you’re using proper form.
Those are the calories actively burned while performing the exercise, but – if you implement burpees into a regular workout routine – they will also help to burn calories outside of the gym, even while you’re resting.
This is because your body is constantly burning calories (even when you’re lying down!), and the amount it burns – known as your basal metabolic rate – will increase if you’re exercising regularly, particularly if you’re performing full-body exercises like burpees.
How to perform burpees
- Stand up straight with your feet in line with your hips and your hands down by your sides. This will be a step-by-step guide, but when you perform a burpee all these steps should flow together without a break.
- Bend your knees and move down into a squat position, then lean forward and place your hands flat on the ground, keeping your legs bent.
- Keeping your hands where they are, kick your legs back straight behind you and land on the balls of your feet. You’ll now be in a plank position.
- Kick off from your feet and bring your legs back forward, toward your arms until your feet are in line with your hands. Explode upward into a jump, and when you land, transition back into the squat position and begin the movement again.
- Repeat for 12-15 reps, or for time.
- Swing your arms up overhead when you jump up from the ground to give yourself a bit of momentum.
- This should also be an explosive leap, so aim to propel yourself as high as possible, before bending your knees as you land to cushion the impact and smoothly move into the squat phase of the burpee.
- When in the plank position, make sure you engage your core.
- To get the maximum benefits from burpees and burn as many calories as possible, complete your set or time period without a break. Avoid remaining in the standing position in between reps.
Mistakes to avoid
- Proper form for burpees is essential, so keep your arms shoulder-width apart when in the push-up position and don’t let your feet dart out to the sides when kicking them back – they should remain aligned with your hips and torso.
- If you have bad knees or experience any knee pain, don’t suffer through it – stop the movement immediately.
- This is quite an intense exercise so don’t ignore your breathing. Breathe out as you kick your legs back, and again when you explode up off the floor, and breathe in between these parts of the movement.
Are burpees strength training or cardio training?
There can sometimes be confusion over what the main benefits of burpees are; whether or not their key effect is improving cardiovascular fitness, or if it is instead enhancing muscle strength and endurance.
In reality, it’s a bit of both. Burpees are undoubtedly an excellent form of cardio training as they elevate your heart rate and burn lots of calories. They will also help improve your endurance and stamina by working your respiratory and cardiovascular systems for an extended period of time.
Having said that, burpees are also helpful in maintaining strength and muscle mass. The explosive and comprehensive nature of the movement means a lot of your major muscle groups are being worked to propel your body weight in different directions.
As such, your muscles get a significant workout. That being said, burpees aren’t a resistance exercise, so they’re unlikely to build a lot of muscle and size.
Burpees provide a high-intensity workout but they’re not always an option for everyone, and it can be useful to have some low-impact exercises to perform instead.
To reduce the intensity, you can remove the jumping aspect of the burpee. So, once you’ve kicked your legs back and brought them forward again, you simply straighten your legs to stand back up into the starting position, rather than jumping.
If you want to take things the other way and make the burpees more challenging, then drop your chest to the floor when kicking your legs back instead of remaining in the high plank position. This means you need to press up off the floor with your hands and arms before then bringing your feet forward and exploding upward.
The next extreme would be to add a pull-up at the end of the burpee. You would perform the burpee as normal underneath a pull-up bar, but when you jump upward you also grab hold of the bar and then perform a pull-up by bending your arms and raising yourself up until your chin is in line with the bar. You then lower back down and perform the burpee again.
Alternatives for burpees
Jump squats can be an effective way of building up to burpees or just as an alternative. You simply squat down, then drive through your feet to jump upward before landing back and moving straight into the movement again.
You could also perform squat thrusts instead of burpees. Adopt the high plank position but start with your legs bent and knees almost touching your arms. Kick your legs back, as you would in a burpee, then pull them forward again to the starting position. Repeat for time or reps.
Burpees are a vigorous calisthenics exercise and one of the most efficient ways of burning calories without using any equipment. You can expect to burn roughly 10 calories per minute while performing burpees, but this will depend on a few physiological factors as well as the intensity you’re working at.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to do burpees every day?
You can theoretically do burpees every day but, as with any form of exercise, you should incorporate rest days into your routine to allow your muscles to recover and reap the full benefits. That being said, you might want to do a set number of burpees per day – 30, for example – and this would be fine as you’re not pushing your body too hard every single day.
Do burpees burn belly fat?
It is impossible to target certain areas of fat in your body. Burpees burn calories, and if you are burning more calories than you consume then you will lose weight and fat, but this is a process across your entire body, not just one place.
Is 50 burpees a day good?
This depends on your goals. If the burpees are being used for maintenance of fitness levels and 50 is effective for your body, then yes this can be effective. However, if you’re looking to consistently improve your fitness and lose weight, it’s best to adjust the amount you’re doing overtime to avoid hitting plateaus.